The Vittoriale degli Italiani: Its Unmissable Wonders

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Whether you love him or not, Gabriele D’Annunzio has left an indelible mark on the Italian landscape, ranging from the artistic-literary to the political and military.

The Vittoriale of D’Annunzio reflects the uniqueness of the great poet: it is more than a house, a villa, or a palace: it is a real monument, which attracts thousands of tourists every year!

We are in Gardone Riviera when, between 1921 and 1938 under the guidance of the architect Giancarlo Maroni, the Vittoriale degli Italiani is built. It is something never seen before: a complex of squares, buildings, water games, gardens and even an open-air theater.

The Vittoriale extends for about nine hectares in a magnificent panoramic position on the Lake. Of the many things to see we want to invite you not to miss at least 10.

10 Things to See at the Vittoriale degli Italiani

1. THE ANPHITEATRE

The amphitheatre still hosts summer performances and over the years, has seen some of Italy’s greatest actors, étoiles from the world of dance and international music stars take the stage.

2. THE PRIORY

Named after the poet, literally the ‘prior’s house’. In the centre of the façade is D’Annunzio’s famous motto ‘Neither more firm nor more faithful’. Once inside, it will be like starting a symbolic journey, as is well exemplified by the cement basket with pomegranates, a fruit chosen by D’Annunzio to signify abundance and fertility.

From the priory you will find not one but two doors: one, in fact, was reserved for “unwanted” guests, those on official visits, and the other was intended for the entrance of the poet’s friends.

3. THE MASQUERADER’S ROOM

Curious and enigmatic, this is the waiting room for official visits nicknamed the ‘masquerader’s room’, because of the inscription on the mirror above the fireplace:

“To the visitor.
Teco bring the mirror of Narcissus?
This is plumbed glass, O maskmaker.
Adjust your masks to your face
but think that you are glass against steel’.

Verses composed on the occasion of Mussolini’s visit in 1925.

4. THE MUSIC ROOM

This is a large chamber concert hall, upholstered in black and silver damask to improve its acoustics. Numerous musical instruments are stored here, including two pianos.

But what is most striking is the juxtaposition of objects totally different in origin and age: statuettes from the Orient, Murano glass, casts of Greek sculptures, snake skins. Even the funeral masks of Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt: it is the poet’s typical eclecticism that finds full expression here.

5. THE GLOBE ROOM

This room is so called because of the presence of the eighteenth-century globe that immediately stands out in the centre of the room.
It is the main library of the house. It houses no less than six thousand volumes of art, and is only a ‘small’ part of the poet’s endless collection!

6. THE BLUE BATHROOM

Very scenic, it houses no less than six hundred objects, coloured between green and blue.
Divided in the French manner, i.e. into a toilet room and a retreat, on the walls we find surprising depictions of Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel, numerous Persian ceramic tiles, Murano glass, masks from Japanese theatre, and a collection of swords and daggers. Once again, d’Annunzio’s eccentric taste reigns supreme.

vittoriale

7. THE CHELI ROOM

Not to be missed, if only for its diversity from the other rooms, the Cheli room is a brightly coloured dining room for guests.

It takes its name from a large bronze turtle made from the real carapace of a tortoise given to d’Annunzio, and which died in the Vittoriale gardens from indigestion. The animal thus becomes a warning against gluttony.

8. THE SCYPHAMON

The building, whose name says it all, was to become the poet’s new residence, but unfortunately it had not been completed when he died.

The building has an imaginative layout, designed like the interior of an ocean liner, the windows are portholes, the corridors high and narrow and the study is reminiscent of a command bridge.
Today the building houses the D’Annunzio Hero Museum.

9. THE PARK

Here, don’t miss the mausoleum, d’Annunzio’s funeral monument, built post-mortem by his architect and inspired by Etruscan-Roman tombs.

10. THE PUGLIA SHIP

One of the most striking relics of the Vittoriale degli Italiani is located under the keep: the military ship Puglia, which was given to the poet by the Navy in 1923.

As you can imagine, it was extremely challenging to transport the ship to the Vittoriale from La Spezia. Since 2002, a museum has been housed in the ship’s sub-hull, displaying several vintage models of warships from the collection of Amedeo di Savoia, Duke of Aosta.

Visiting D’Annunzio’s Vittoriale is a great idea if you are on holiday at Lake Garda. We recommend you return a second time because the wonders of this house-museum are difficult to discover all at once. In any case, we are sure that its charm will leave you speechless.

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Other things to see on Lake Garda:

Bardolino, a municipality on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, is one of the towns on the lake that attracts the most visitors throughout the year.

Garda is also rich in history and tradition, as witnessed by the various buildings and places of interest that you should not miss during your visit.

Malcesine, the northernmost municipality on the Veronese shore of Lake Garda, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors who flock to the lake in large numbers every year.

A cradle of art and history that traces its origins back to the Bronze Age, this culturally rich town will offer you numerous treasures, all waiting to be discovered!

Discover the towns of Lake Garda
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